The arthritis-susceptible DA rat is one of the most commonly used rat strains for genetic linkage analysis and is instrumental for the identification of many genetic loci. Even though DA rats were kept as inbred lines at different institutes and suppliers, it became obvious that the various breeding stocks differed genetically. To be able to compare the results from different linkage studies it is very import to verify the genetic background of the substrains used in those studies. We performed a genetic and phenotypic analysis of two DA substrains, DA/ZtmRhd and DA/OlaHsd, and found several genetic differences. One of the allelic differences between the DA/ZtmRhd and the DA/OlaHsd strain was located at rat chromosome 3, a 17-Mb large fragment, including the peak marker of a previously identified quantitative trait locus (QTL) for collagen-induced arthritis, Cia11. In addition, the substrains exhibited a significant difference in the susceptibility to pristane-induced arthritis (PIA) and disease severity of collagen-induced arthritis and PIA. However, by generating and testing a congenic line, we could demonstrate that phenotypic differences were not due to the contaminating fragment on chromosome 3. Nevertheless, we conclude that DA substrains show distinct genetic differences and caution should be taken when comparing arthritis data from different DA substrains.